Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mount Finlayson Victoria, BC Double Summit Trail Run (video and trail photos)

Mt. Finlayson from the Little Niagara Train Trestle!
Mt. Finlayson is a seemingly small hill in the Goldstream Park about 15 kilometers north of downtown Victoria. At 410 meters (1374 for my imperial friends) it doesn't seem to encapsulate the grandeur of runs in the Coast Range of Northern Vancouver, or even large mountains on Vancouver Island, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in personality. The short trail to the summit runs an average grade of 20% and often requires class 3 scrambling.

There is a more mellow, but still relentless approach on the north slope, that doesn't require scrambling and isn't as exposed but still requires a fair chunk of work to make the summit quickly. This was my first plan of attack. Being one of the first warm Saturdays of the year I knew that Victoria's most popular mountain would be a zoo. By parking off the lesser known trail head, and climbing Finlayson via the backdoor first, I knew I would be able to focus on my first solid summit without navigating around a bunch of people.

My plan worked perfectly and I only passed one or two lonely souls on the back side.

My legs felt fairly strong as I began to coax them into a solid pace for the first flattish kilometer. I knew that there was nearly 400 meters (1000 feet) of non-stop 20% grade ahead of me so I held back and just tried to  conserve energy. Before I knew it I was ascending the mountain, climbing steps, and dancing between rocks. I applied constant pressure to my legs. Not so much that they blew up, but when they began to complain under the constant accumulation of lactic acid, I didn't give in. I kept pushing them up the trail as it wound it's way up the mountain side.

About half way up I took my first walking break (other than a few short rests to set up my camera). The walk was great and gave the lactic acid a chance to be whisked away by my blood. No sooner did my muscles begin to recover then I would start right up into a trot again only to find the acid come swelling back into my muscles quicker than ever. This is what hill running is all about. How well can you ignore the screaming voice of your muscles? Your muscles are doing everything in their power to get you to give in and to stop. It is these steep brutal hill runs that allow your mental toughness an opportunity to be developed and pushed. Without hills I wouldn't be half the runner I am on the trails or the road.

The summit was quickly won in about 24 minutes and I felt great. I knew that I possibly could have shaved another couple of minutes off but I still had an extremely technical descent and ascent via the ledge-choked south slope.

Mount Finlayson out and back route plus mile markers.
I started down the steep technical face and sat back in the saddle and let my quads begin the main task to absorb my forward and downward momentum. I was glad I had been running downhill hard for several months now and I could count on my quads to take the brunt of the force as I clomped down the face. I would crab crawl, slide, and leap down a large ledge and then I could run a short distance of smooth sloping rock before finding the next ledge waiting to throw me off the mountain. I began to pass group after group of hikers; mainly young university students in their Nike Free Run's. In fact I saw more Nike Free Runs on that mountain than I have in all the running stores I have ever frequented combined. I don't know how Nike does it but they somehow find a way to convince the majority of young active people to purchase their shoes.

I really wanted to set up some great shots of the many challenging ledges and rocks that must be carefully dealt with to prevent injury, but the crowds were everywhere so I only captured a few shots of the ledges so my video looks quite a bit tamer than it is in reality. I worked at keeping as much of my feet in contact with the rocks as possible to maximize my coefficient of friction and keep me securely glued to the hill. Halfway down my pace began to slow as my quads became fatigued. I just relaxed and eased back to let my legs have a chance to recover. Before I knew it the technical portion was finished and I was sailing to the main parking lot.

I quickly turned on my heels and retraced my steps up the trail. The ascent was much safer as far as the risk of falling but at that point in the run my legs weren't really excited about running 20% grades again. My muscles' voice was loud enough to drown out my will power so I began to power hike instead of run. Even power hiking I could tell I was maxed out. My heart rate was through the roof and I could occasionally see swirls come and go as anyone with low blood pressure can relate to. I made a game to see how many hikers I could overtake (about 30). This kept me red lined at my max and ensured that I didn't settle for anything less than 100%. I scrambled my way up the ledges as the warm March sun beat down on me, and reflected off the worn rocks, giving me a second dose of radiation. I wasn't complaining though. The sun recharged batteries that had worn down to dangerously low levels after the long sunless winter!

I summited again taking some footage of a quick victory pose and then I bailed back down the north and somewhat abandoned trail I had first climbed. The descent was slow because my quads were knackered. They felt like they had just gone through a meat grinder. How I love the feeling of thoroughly thrashed quads! I took it easy and soaked up a bit more afternoon sun as it penetrated through the firs and drenched me under large patches of gold between fields of cool blues and green.

What a great run! I went home feeling fatigued muscles and the warm glow that follows a difficult workout in a beautiful location!

Gold Stream Park trail maps

Mount Finlayson drenched in afternoon sunlight!
Here is the video from the run! I hope it illustrates even a little bit of what it is like to run on this awesome mountain!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mount Work Victoria, BC Trail Run (Video and Trail Photo)

Mount Work is a rounded and wooded hill in the Gowlland Tod Park with miles of trails that overlook the Saanich Inlet and Finlayson Arm. It is a steep and short little trail but extremely fun to run.

I started at a steady pace and quickly found myself running up a trail with a trickle of water flowing down it. I was concerned that I would get rained on but upon parking the clouds broke and I was met by rays of warm March sun penetrating the undergrowth. The hill quickly steepened and I had to adjust my stride to short and quick little steps. There were large portions of trail that had accrued puddles from previous rain storms. The rocks were particularly perilous as they were wet, mossy, and extremely slick. I quickly powered my way to the summit taking advantage of any flatter portion of trail to run, and power hiking the steeper portions of rocky trail. The summit was beautiful and the weather perfect for a Saturday run. The return trip was punctuated by tromping through deep puddles and bombing down steep stretches of single track. It was a great little run and I was extremely happy with it, and was reminded once again why I love running so much!

Finlayson Arm and Saanich Inlet from an overlook near the summit of Mount Work in the Gowlland Tod Park!
Below is a nice video of the run with a great little running song!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spring-like Trail Run on Vancouver Island (trail photos) - Late February

My good friend Tim and I finished up our seventh week of our 2013 training block. While Tim was dealing with one of Utah's colder snowier winters, Vancouver Island has experienced quite a mild winter, which means spring-like conditions are here a little early. 

I must admit I feel bad as Tim posts about his training runs in sub-zero weather and blustery whiteout conditions. Meanwhile I am in short sleeves and shorts gliding around a mountain, surrounded by succulent chartreuse leaves, and single track bordered by emerald carpet. Tim is definitely building up a nice resistance to the many trials facing us this year by running in the challenging conditions, meanwhile I am getting spoiled and I will not be quite as accustomed to the difficulties that lie ahead! 

I am not complaining though. I openly admit that it is fantastic to run through the budding new life of Mount Doug in February. I still remember when I was training in Utah, and I would stand on the driveway in the dark early morning waiting for a snowplow to clear the road so I could run in its wake, as new snowflakes quickly accumulated on the freshly plowed road. Those seem like great times in retrospect but at the time I wasn't always so thrilled. 

Week seven was a great week for me and the outlined schedule pushed me to run hard and pick up the pace. 

As my degree comes to a close and I likely head out for an unknown future in academia and a new home I find myself already missing Victoria and the Island. It was here where I feel I have grown the most as a geologist, a student, and in life in general. I will always have fond memories of my late winter sojourns on the green sun-drenched slopes of Mount Doug. I guess I better really enjoy this spring as it is likely my last one here anyways!

 Succulent new growth on Mount Doug in mid February!

 The green north slopes of Doug in late winter.

 Late winter trail running on Doug.

A lone arbutus on Little Doug with rural Victoria behind it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Winter Trail Run at Night Victoria, BC (photos)

It was already 9:00 pm and we had just finished celebrating a new BC holiday called family day. We went to a friends house and had a wonderful time around their fire pit roasting weenies and making smores. I hadn't planned on the fire pit outing and so it displaced the time I had set a side to run. On the drive home I debated whether to run or not. Once I arrived at the house I knew I would regret if I didn't get my run in so I put on my gear, grabbed my headlamp, and headed out the door. 

It had rained earlier in the day almost spoiling our campfire but the rain had abated and the clouds dispersed. I chose to run part of the chip trail that circumnavigates the UVic campus but then to summit a small hill nearby called Mount Tolmie. Somewhere in the woods an owl hooted in that deep penetrating hoot that fills the forest, making an eerie seen as I ran through the darkness. Any time I run in Victoria at night my mind always wanders to the many cougar sightings that crop up every year. This night was no different but it didn't really frighten me, more of a heightening of my senses. I exited the forest and ran toward Mount Tolmie. 

The little hill is by no means impressive or challenging in the way that the Rockies or many western mountain ranges are but it does get your blood pumping and it is easy to make many repeats to gain some hill training fitness as well. This night was just going to be one single summit and a return home. The stars began to blaze through the lifting clouds on my final approach to the summit and after coming up over the crest of the final hill I was completely surrounded by the warm glow of street lamps and houses and the scintillant haze of downtown on the horizon. Mount Doug was back lit showing it's distinctive silhouette against the partly cloudy sky. I was extremely pleased I gutted it out and got my run in. Many times it is when I am the most conflicted whether to run or not that I am usually rewarded the most for not giving into that voice in the back of my mind. This run was truly a jewel in my early training year and I was rewarded with an inspiring view few people are able to see because they are busy living their lives and can't motivate themselves to explore and enjoy the world around them.

The return trip went as smoothly as I could have hoped for and I made it to my house where I cleaned up and slept the sleep of the training runner.

My headlamp can be seen bouncing down the chip trail on this long exposure shot (top). On the summit of Mount Tolmie with part of the city lit up behind me (middle). Mount Doug back lit showing its silhouette (bottom).

Downtown Victoria from the summit of Mount Tolmie (top and middle). A grainy shot of the stars peeking from behind clouds taken on my approach to the summit (bottom).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunny Winter Trail Run on Mount Doug Victoria, BC

With anticipation I awoke to a bright sunny February morning on Vancouver Island, ready for my Saturday long run. The warm sun and mild temps suggested that it was time to switch out the tights and toque for shorts and a running hat (at least for the day). I coaxed my body into a light jog at my usual training grounds on Mount Douglas in Victoria, BC. Having trained for about 4 weeks I was starting to get into a groove and quickly found a pace that felt great. Wisps of cool morning air brushed across my bare legs as I navigated the damp trails that wrap around the base of Mount Doug. It was one of those mornings where everything was clicking between my training, diet, and sleep - and they were all in sync. I was motoring through the miles effortlessly. The climbs were still more than I could manage without a walking break or two but my lactic threshold was definitely heading south. The downhills felt fluid and easy as my quads extended and contracted to slow my descent. I urged my legs into a fast clip as I cleared the wooded slopes and entered the sun-soaked exposed south slopes. It was amazing to be cruising over the trails in the sun. Overall the run was relaxed, playful, and rejuvenating. By the end I was thoroughly exhausted as a result of my eagerness to run quickly in the beautiful crisp morning air.

Sun-drenched trail on the southeast apron of Mount Doug (top). Climbing one of three major ascents out of the southern wooded approach (middle). The view west from the summit of Mount Doug showing the beautiful greens that are so prevalent this time of year (bottom).

Looking east out towards the Gulf islands of the Georgia Strait, halfway up my first major climb (top). Sun peaking through the undergrowth on Doug's south slope (middle). Circuitous trail through moss and ferns (bottom).

Below is a video capturing the run and was featured on the local newspapers (Times Colonist) entertainment page here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 - Week One Long Distance Training Complete

Week one of training with my friend Tim for long distance has come and gone in a flash! We ran fairly low distances with rest days in between because we are just beginning to ramp up to further and further distances. The photos below show some shots taken on Saturday's run (and show up again in the video, sorry for the redundancy). I only took photos on Saturday because of low light and poor weather for the other runs earlier in the week.

On Monday I awoke to the sound of rain pounding the window and I knew it would be a wet run. I left my house in the dark at 6:00 AM. I ran the chip trail which wraps around campus and I wasn't surprised to be the only one on the trail. It had been raining all night and the rain quickly collected in puddles in all depressions along the trail because the pore space in the soil couldn't soak up any more water. The trail is a loop, therefore I found myself for about a quarter of the run, running face first into great big drops of rain as the wind drove it almost parallel with the ground. I quickly ran the loop and crossed bridges which spanned swollen creeks dotted with the large stalks of skunk cabbage. My shoes slopped through the puddles; soaked through. One nice thing about getting your feet wet immediately is that you no longer need to worry about keeping your feet dry so from then on you can just focus on running because your shoes aren't going to get any wetter.

Wednesday had much better weather conditions and was almost too warm for tights and I really worked up a sweat quickly. I really pushed on day two for some reason, my body just felt like pushing it. I really hammered the Chip trail running it clockwise, opposite from Monday's run. I find when I run the same loop route multiple times in a week it is very nice mentally and physically to switch the direction of the route. It keeps it fresh, and helps keep you running evenly, and wards off ennui which can accompany any runner who runs the same course often. I finished feeling well tired, and a bit sore from my pace, but I felt I put in a great workout.

Saturday was very cold for Victoria and saw temps below freezing. It was odd seeing frost and snow on the ground. Even the puddles had a thin film of ice. I chose Mt. Tolmie as my destination. This allowed me to run some flats but also work on my up and down hill running. The sky was bright and the colors vibrant. I spent a considerable amount of time filming the colors and setting up shots for my short video. As I was returning from the summit I saw that my SD card was full and that I had not recorded much at all. The many minutes of video I so painstakingly tried to capture was lost. So the video below only shows a minute or two of footage of 15 or so that I captured. Oh well; it also cuts off abruptly, but I couldn't be bothered with fixing it. I will just chalk that up to experience and remember to check my SD card before running in the future. The run was great and I enjoyed the run immensely.

Tim and I are also swapping music for each run. We each suggest a song from our own repertoire to the other and then run with it as our first song of each run. It has been a lot of fun and has made each run exciting as we each get to look forward not only to running the same distance together, at roughly the same time, but also to the same songs! It also allows us to discover new music. I highly recommend it to any runners who like to run with music and want to spice up their training playlist. It is nice to be able to share the fairly solitary pursuit of long distance running with someone else and connect on another level. I think we will keep this up as long as we can!

My video is the first one with Tim's video for the week shown last!

And here is Tim's video for week one. Same training routine just 1000 miles to the southeast!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mount Douglas Victoria BC Trail Run with photos Jan. 5th

My best friend Tim and I will start to officially train for the 2013 season beginning on Monday. He lives in Utah about 900 miles to the southeast of my current home of Victoria, BC. So to train together we have to rely heavily on the miracle of technology i.e. social networking, YouTube (highdef video conversations), and e-mail. These modern conveniences let us stay connected as we train together and follow each other's progress while also carrying on long distance conversations about this beautiful art we call running. We will also be doing the same training program; one Tim has designed. This program is tailored to help us get back into the groove of running consistently between now and April (get the cobwebs out after the holidays) and then really hone our speed and endurance come the summer so that we will be able to handle whatever running adventure we can get ourselves into. Besides Tim's marathons and RAGNAR races he has planned, we are also looking at our yearly epic trail run to be a beast and I will blog about that in the future!

This past week I have tried to run some slow distance just to wake up my circulatory and respiratory systems while also conjuring up some muscle memory in my legs. I dropped off my Christmas tree at the University Track and donated to the track team to help support track and field athletics (the track team recycles trees to raise money). I then started my run at Mt. Douglas my usual training ground. The weather was perfect 9 degrees Celsius or 48 Fahrenheit; overcast with a bit of sun peaking through now and again. It felt like running in April in Utah but these conditions are quite common this time of year here on the island. I took my time and worked my way up the side of the mountain focusing on taking small steps at a faster cadence and also staying relaxed. The majority of the trails I run on are devoid of my fellow bipedal com padres since the trails I run require you to get muddy and are somewhat technical. I summited the big mountain and snapped a few shots but it was so crowded with others in the observation nest that I quickly dove off the gnarly steep side of Doug in full retreat. after picking my way down the exposed slippery rocks I ran the Km of slight uphill trail towards Little Mt. Doug; stepping in small spaces between roots and rocks. Little Doug is a small blister on the west apron of it's bigger brother. I really like Lil Doug, though much smaller, it also has a lot of personality (the trails do anyways). I chilled on the summit for a few minutes and reveled in the feeling of running free and the nice relatively warm weather. I bounced down the steep rocky face and finished my run on a trail that hugs the base of Big Doug and takes me back to the trail head. I saw that some of the underbrush was starting to already bud. How I love spring on the island! In Utah winter often gives way to summer with an extremely abbreviated spring (often only a week or so) but on the island spring dominates both winter and summer and often seems to make up half the year. I took little easy strides and focused on my form and got excited for this years training with Tim, and I tried to let that small burst of adrenaline at the thought of training with him carry me all the way to the finish extremely quickly. It was another great run and 2013 is turning out to be a great one. I gave this run 7 out of 10 bean burritos (with Serrano peppers, my after run snack).

A Mt. Doug trail running video.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Day run through Thetis Lake Regional Park

For two years in a row I have ran in Thetis Lake Provincial park on New Years. It is a little gem of a park only about 10 minutes from downtown Victoria. This park can be crowded and is a favorite of dog walkers. The secret to avoiding the masses is to run the narrow and muddy trails on the perimeter of the park rather than sticking to the main crushed gravel trail that circumnavigates the lake shore. This is a great solution if you don't mind getting some swamp feet now and then. The weather was chilly 5 Celsius or high 30's Fahrenheit with a hazy sky but also some sun.

I first summited a small hill (Seymour) just to get the blood pumping and get my core temp up. The hill sits on the southeast side of the lake and gives impressive glimpses of Thetis to the west. Running up the south slope of Seymour is one of my favorite trails in the park because it is a vastly different ecosystem with more grass and spaced out garry oaks and fir trees; it reminds me of running in Utah's Uinta mountains or other alpine forests in the Rockies. The summit consists of a faint trail which rolls over the mossy rocks and is dotted by arbutus and douglas fir.

The descent from Seymour is just as spectacular and takes you right down to the lake shore via a swerving length of single-track that cuts through broad-leaved shrubs and Oregon grape. I ran the main trail for a short distance just to get me to the Seaborn trail turnoff which connects to the McKenzie creek trail. Once you veer off the main trail you are back to solitude and complete isolation. Only a few of the hardiest hikers or trail runners venture down these trails because they meander along side the creek in a fairly boggy area. Many portions of the trail consist of roots, mud, and standing water. The ecosystem is one of moss-covered western red cedars, rocks caked with succulent ferns, mossy logs and an overall swampy biota. A little slice of pacific northwest trailrunners paradise.

With limited fitness at the moment I was forced to take things fairly easy so I didn't run to the summit of Stewart mountain but turned back after a few miles on the McKenzie creek trail. I retraced my steps and did the run in reverse and had a thrilling return trip filled with lots of playful running along the creeks and rolling hills in an exhilarating workout. Overall I give this run 3.5 out of 5 wet Brooks Cascadias; high marks indeed for the first run of 2013!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Arbutus Cove Run October 22, 2012

I really enjoy running in the rain. I should rephrase that, I really enjoy running in a light drizzle. The rain keeps you cool and is also a bit invigorating so that you seem to find a little extra energy to draw from. I also love running in the Autumn not only because of the obvious reasons of vibrant fall colors and cooler temperatures but also knowing that the racing season is over takes some of the pressure off to perform and train at such a high level. You are able to relax some and enjoy running for the simple act of covering distance efficiently. Today's run checked both these boxes. I stepped out my door and was first greeted by a brisk drizzle, during the Island's first true cold spell the year; it was a little like jumping into a cold pool, but like swimming in a cold pool, it is only a matter of time before the body adjusts and the exertion makes you quite comfortable. The smell of earth and leaves in various stages of decay accompanied me as I started down the trail. I decided to run Arubutus Cove a small sandy bay near my home. As I ran down the stairs to the beach, I could hear the surf which meant high tide. The waves were crashing right up against the high water mark which only left a small strip of runnable sand. It would be possible to run this strip, which would include some scrambling on slimy rocks, but tonight I opted to head back to the road and circumnavigate the beach and run to the other end. The other end of the cove has larger grassy areas along the headlands strewn with large arbutus trees, both lush and green, and dead and scraggly. I enjoyed the view and ran down the 40 or so steps to the beach. It was a superb run at the height of fall. I retraced my steps and did the route in reverse for a simple 35 minute run. Nothing too serious just enough.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brooks Cascadia 7 Review

Brooks Cascadia 7

Cascadia 7 statistics:

Weight: 11.93 oz (US Men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Drop: 10.0 mm (improved from Cascadia 6’s 11.3mm drop)
Heel Height: 28.0 mm
Forefoot Height: 18.0 mm
Before reviewing the Cascadia 7 I need to mention that I gave the Cascadia 6 a score of 21/25 in my previous review, and even though I reviewed the 6's after running 90 miles, it may have been premature considering several issues popped up later in the life of the shoe. More realistically the Cascadia 6 score was an 18/25. That said, my Cascadia 6’s ended up lasting for 1,600 miles before I had to retire them, and that includes over 600 of those miles on roads. The good news is that the Cascadia 7 addressed these issues that cropped up later with the 6’s and I am extremely excited about the updated 7. I will address these issues with the 6 and how the 7 has addressed the issues in this review.
The Cascadia 7’s outsole lug design has been redesigned from the 6. The biggest change was the elimination of the round lugs in the core of the outsole of the 6 and returning back to a more triangular lug design in the core of the 7. This change was important because the round lugs in the 6 were not angular enough to grip crevices in rocks and seemed unable to cut through deep mud due to their large surface area. The round lugs also wore quicker and as they wore the traction decreased significantly.
Here is how this new outsole performed on the trails and roads and improved the shoe from the Cascadia 6.
Roads - The lugs handle the roads reasonably well for a trail shoe that is primarily designed for gripping rocks and mud. The lack of surface area in contact with the road on a luggy trail shoe does cause some slippage particularly on wet asphalt. The amazing thing about the Cascadia 7 is that the tread design is smooth enough on the road that you can actually run many miles on the road and have no problems. This shoe is no replacement for a nice road runner but it is as close as it gets. For a runner who has to navigate roads to get to the trails or run trails that have sections of road, this is definitely the shoe for you. I rated the outsole 3/5 for performance on the road
Trails - This is where the outsole and lug design of this shoe excels. The amazing thing about the Cascadia 7 is the fact that this outsole can handle muddy, rocky and root strewn trails nearly as well as specialist trail shoes designed primarily for nasty trails, and yet the Cascadia 7 can run roads making them a more diverse shoe without losing much performance compared to a specialty shoe. They grip mud extremely well. In the Pacific Northwest where I train, muddy trails are a constant, so it is key that the shoe doesn’t slip and the mud doesn’t stick to the sole. The Cascadia 7 nails this combination and can handle the soup and then releases the mud between strides. As for wet rocks they did as good a job as you can expect any versatile shoe. There always seems to be some slipping on wet rocks but the more triangular lug on the 7 seems to find better purchase in small imperfections in the rocks better than the Cascadia 6 so there is improvement there, but there is still slipping on wet slimy rocks. They handle dry rocks extremely well and the ballistic rock shield eliminates the shock from sharp roots and rocks and can handle long distances on rocky trails. Total score for outsole on the trails is 4.5/5.
Cushioning/pivot points/caterpillar crash pad
The Brooks Cascadia 7 incorporates the Brooks DNA cushioning system into the mid sole. This non-newtonian substance is supposed to give each runner a new tailored ride. They have kept the pivot points which are meant to prevent an ankle roll when stepping onto the side of your foot on a rock or root. There was little change in the cushioning from the 6 to the 7 because they really have the cushioning figured out.
Roads – Once again Brooks has found a way to cushion their shoe in a way that is virtually invisible. The shock of the road is adsorbed particularly for heel strikers due to the roll of the shoe and also from the collapse of the caterpillar crash pad in the heel area. Mid to forefoot strikers will find the shoe extremely comfortable on the roads even for long distances. As far as trail shoes are concerned this is the Cadillac of trail shoes on the road. I give the cushioning a 5/5on the roads.
Trails - Everything said previously about the cushioning on the roads applies to the trails but even improves more since the added softness from the trails makes the impact even less noticeable whether you are midfoot striking or heel striking from packed dirt to rocks and mud. The Cascadia 7 deforms around obstacles due in part to its pivot posts. The shoe definitely gets the full 5/5 for cushioning because of the pivots, the DNA, and Caterpillar Crash Pad that all work together to give you a custom, stable, and a shock free ride.
The upper has changed once again. The previous Cascadia 6 had an adjustable piece in the eye row, which I found to relieve pain in the bridge of the foot during toe-off, but over time I felt the elasticity allowed my foot to slide forward on steep downhill trails and my foot would begin to slide into the toe box. I was quite happy to see this feature go even though in my previous review I praised the elastic eye row as a smart innovation. To address this issue brooks has offset the entire lacing system to lock down the foot and take pressure off the bridge of the foot.
Roads/Trails - The new adjustments have definitely changed how the shoe fits. At first I thought the size 10 felt too wide, but as I worked on the laces it locked down across the bridge and finally tightened up in the toe box and seemed to feel closer to the previous size 10’s fit. The offset laces work really well and not only lock down the shoe in the arch area but release the pressure points across the bridge of the foot, improving the shoe from previous lace designs. The shoe goes from completely water logged from stepping in a stream or puddle to damp in about 20 steps so the shoe really expels water once it gets in there and even seems to draw water out of the wet sock and move it to the outside of the shoe. This is key for any long runs that have high probability for getting your feet wet. I had issues with the Cascadia 6 laces staying tied and thought the floating eye row may have allowed the laces to loosen up over time. The Cascadia 7’s seem to stay tied better than the 6’s but I feel there is still some room for improvement in the lace so that it doesn’t come untied or loose. The shoes upper receives a 4.5/5.
Overall I gave this shoe a total 22/25 scoring higher than my previous Cascadia 6 review and if you consider I feel the Cascadia 6 was actually lower, you can say the Cascadia 7 is clearly a major improvement. Most of this improvement comes from the lug design and the offset lace design. Once again I would recommend this shoe for a versatile runner who encounters the full spectrum of running surfaces from trail to track in any given day. There is still some wiggle room for improvement but Brooks has really developed a great shoe that any runner can take and excel in whether training or racing. This shoe is the Swiss army knife of trail shoes!

Here is a video of a run on Mount Work in Victoria, BC wearing the second pair of Cascadia 7's I have owned!